The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War (Everyman's Library)

The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War (Everyman's Library)


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The eponymous hero of The Good Soldier Svejk the book for which the Czech writer Jaroslav Hasek will forever be remembered—has virtually come to define, since his creation in the aftermath of World War I, the spirit of comic endurance necessary to withstand the manglings of a modern-day bureaucratic war machine.

Shrewd, affable, possessed of an unerring talent for finding himself in (and extricating himself from) the most fitfully chaotic and absurd situations, Svejk represents, in his instinct for survival, all those human values which stand opposed to the utter futility of warfare.

With an introduction from, and translated by, Cecil Parrott.

(Book Jacket Status: Not Jacketed)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679420361
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/28/1993
Series: Everyman's Librar Series
Pages: 864
Product dimensions: 5.35(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.72(d)

About the Author

Jaroslav Hašek (1883-1923) wrote more than 2,000 short works, short stories, glosses, sketches, mostly under various pen-names. A prankster and stalwart of innumerable taverns scattered across Bohemia, Hašek was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army during the First World War and spent much of the war in a Russian prisoner-of-war camp. After the war Hašek launched into writing his devastating and hilarious satire The Good Soldier Švejk, which was tragically left unfinished at his premature death and yet was, by various measures, probably unfinishable.

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The Good Soldier Svejk: And His Fortunes in the World War 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
RSGompertz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you like Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle" , Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Joseph Heller's "Catch 22," or John Kennedy O'Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces," you'll be delighted to discover this obscure saga of "The Good Soldier Svejk."I'm not sure if any of the above mentioned authors were aware of this interconnected tangle of Central European shaggy dog stories written just after WWI, but it sure feels like the mother lode for modern satire.The author, born in Bohemia in 1883, was an eccentric writer who took up journalism, drinking, and wandering. Think of him as a Don Quixote lost somewhere in the Austrio-Hungarian empire. During WWI he was captured and spent years in Russian prison camps. Hasek's piercing sense of the absurd must have helped him survive a mountain of ordeals because he came out on the other side with this picaresque tale of a reluctant soldier who is either the most inept person on earth or the most brilliant we've ever produced. Svejk confounds everyone he encounters. Through wits or lack thereof, he survives the perils of war and wrath of his commanders, floating down a seemingly endless stream of hilarious and insightful parables.Svejk is the wise fool, the schlemiel, the coyote trickster. He lurches and stumbles from one fiasco to the next vexing his apoplectic superiors, skirting disasters, and always finding something to drink at the end of the day.The collected edition isn't an easy read in that it's very long and a bit of a ramble. But it's worth it. In many ways, this is a book about everything. You can mine it for meaning and metaphor, or just be entertained. It's old world and worldly--a massive send up of humanity caught at our best and worst with all our fancies and foibles gently laid bare.
CitizenMarc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rabbelesian flow of picaresque shaggy dog stories, woven around the character and adventures of the enigmatic 'imbecile' soldier Svejk, whose seeming innocence conceals vicious guile and whose old-fashioned respect for order is just a facade for amoral opportunism - and yet a likeable character, because he is the mirror which reveals the hypocrisy and cant of the A-H Empire, and the emergent idle rich. Svejk is both 'everyman' and 'monkey king' - he gets out of the tightest corners to survive for the next day - and yet another, even worse undeserving predicament. The narrative is but an excuse for a torrent of stories - in the best tradition Chaucer and Bocaccio - often with a hidden 'moral' which may be truly subversive. In responding to his masters, while apparently acquiescing or simply passively endorsing, Svejks asides appear, like Shakespeare's court jesters, disguising wisdom in nonsense, concealing the cynicism of the put-upon in the servant's humble guise of apparent obedience. The humour is at times bawdy or earthy and then again, sharp and bitter - with objects ranging from the manners and morals of the haute bourgoisie to the inhumanly cruel suppression of Czech nationalism by the Germanic A-H empire and its spies and informers, and the madness of modern war.
ngmcd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Patience is required for this book. I found myself at times fully enjoying one of Svejk's ramblinf stories, other times I was tempted to skip through them. As the introduction to the book says, hasek's narrative skills leave a lot to be desired but it is still an immensely enjoyable piece of work. Svejk is the man we can all identify with, sympathise with and root for.
difreda on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After spending more than 3 decades in the service of this Nation. I conclude that all new officers should have this as a well thumbed memento by the time they retire. Even today there is a bit of this nonsense left. Gladly or should I say "Humbly Report!" - the older officers have matured well beyond the Hasek's Generals. A must read for all military personnel - just like war Hasek has a lot of ups and downs - periods of absolute gut- busting humor - interspersed with doldrums - still a great read!
markalanlaidlaw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Clever satire,worth the effort of reading in the original, Europe's catch 22 40 years earlier than Joseph H's excellent book.
gbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bravo on pointing out the absolute idiocy of war, but not rich enough or structurally strong enough to be good fiction; I could only make it through about 350 of the book's 700+ pages.Quotes on war:"An old reservist looked at the raw recruit and said: 'Nice hope that a shrapnel tears off your head! They've pulled the wool over our eyes. Once a deputy from the Clerical Party came to our village and spoke to us about God's peace, which spans the earth, and how the Lord did not want war and wanted us all to live in peace and get on together like brothers. And look at him now, the bloody fool! Now that war has broken out they pray in all the churches for the success of our arms, and they talk about God like a chief of the general staff who guides and directs the war. From this military hospital I've seen many funerals go out and cartfuls of hacked-off arms and legs carried away.''And the soldiers are buried naked,' said another soldier, 'and into the uniform they put another live man. And so it goes on for ever and ever....'I think that it's splendid to get oneself run through with a bayonet,' said Svejk, 'and also that it's not bad to get a bullet in the stomach. It's even grander when you're torn to pieces by a shell and you see that your legs and belly are somehow remote from you. It's very funny and you die before anyone can explain it to you.'The young soldier gave a heartfelt sigh. He was sorry for his young life. Why was he born in such a stupid century to be butchered like an ox in a slaughterhouse? What was all that necessary?""But the scoundrel Marek stood by the side of Svejk and looked quite happy. It could not have turned out better for him. It was definitely better to peel potatoes in the kitchen, shape dumplings and take meat off the bone than stand up to the hurricane fire of the enemy and roar out: 'Form two deep! Fix bayonets!' when one's trousers were full.""Before the arrival of the passenger train the third-class restaurant filled up with soldiers and civilians. They were predominantly soldiers of various regiments and formations and the most diverse nationalities whom the whirlwinds of war had swept into the Tabor hospitals. They were now going back to the front to get new wounds, mutilations and pains and to earn the reward of a simple wooden cross over their graves. Years after on the mournful plains of East Galicia a faded Austrian soldier's cap with a rusty Imperial badge would flutter over it in wind and rain. From time to time a miserable old carrion crow would perch on it, recalling fat feasts of bygone days when there used to be spread for him an unending table of human corpses and horse carcasses, when just under the cap on which he perched there lay the daintiest morsels of all - human eyes.""'All along the line,' said the volunteer, pulling the blanket over him, 'everything in the army stinks of rottenness. Up till now the wide-eyed masses haven't woken up to it. With goggling eyes they let themselves be made into mincemeat and when they're struck by a bullet they just whisper, 'Mummy!' Heroes don't exist, only cattle for the slaughter and the butchers in the general staffs."
orend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Simply Hilarious. Svejk was for WWII soldiers what Catch-22 was for Vietnam soldiers.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like literature - you will love this book. It's as simple as that. The humor is umimitable, the characters are not only vivid and memorable, but also very very real. They are still among us, and you will, in fact, recognize them as you read. The plot is very interesting, but it fades in comparison with the character of Shejk. He is unique, there is noone like him in literature. After reading the book he will become a friend to you, and his presence will never leave you afterwards. He is truly great. And just as a sidenote - this is a must-read for everyone who either wants to learn about Eastern European culture, or will go there anytime soon - that part of the world has not changed much since Shejk walked the earth.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Svejk is a haunting fellow, even weeks after `living¿ with him through his haunts in Czech Republic, I still think about his exploits. Many people must remember the American on the train or in the hostel laughing out loud while he read. Svejk clearly is not stupid, he plays the idiot automatically when it benefits him. He knows that the front line will not be good for him, but is loyal to his Lt up to suggesting that he take the punishment for his Lt.¿s hedonistic tendencies. One thing that bothered me is the coincidence of the story about the editor that made up animals for his periodicals. This is eerily similar to Samuel Clemens¿ short story about editing a country journal. The story does get long in parts, rehashing times in the ¿gaol¿ or his ¿guzzling¿ fellow soldiers. I think Heller must¿ve drawn `inspiration¿ from Hasek, so perhaps it¿s simply being passed on¿ The Army has not changed over 100 years and a continent away. Nobody knows what¿s going on and if you have some power¿ The portrayal of war is equivalent to Remarque¿s All Quiet on the Western Front, but seemingly forgotten today. The history of Hasek face to face with this writing was constantly in mind as I read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderfully satiric book that I've read 5 times. It pokes fun not only at the martial mentality, but also empires and petty officials and most other people as well. Hasek fits more anecdotal stories into this than any other book I've read. Also, if you enjoy Eastern European culture: food and drink and liquor, you'll love this novel. Svejk would be a wonderful guest any time you're at a pub or a party.